No Small Stuff (cont.): “Bad” Pollworker Checks in Broward County, FL

[Image via pxleyes]

Regular readers know I am fond of saying that there’s “no such thing as small stuff in elections”, and the latest example comes to us from Florida’s Broward County, where the newly-appointed Supervisor of Elections is dealing with bounced checks to pollworkers – not because of missing funds, but missing numbers thanks to a “rip-off” of a different kind. The Sun-Sentinel has more:

Broward’s new elections supervisor is finding he’s got more issues to deal with than making sure Broward’s votes are counted correctly.

On Monday, it was about getting Broward’s poll workers paid for the work they did in the November elections.

Some poll workers tried to cash their checks, only to have them rejected by their banks. Others haven’t gotten their checks yet because they were sent to wrong addresses.

The rejected checks weren’t because the elections office was out of money, but because the routing numbers for its bank account were missing.

The culprits? Bank routing numbers, thin paper and perforation:

Elections Supervisor Pete Antonacci said the office didn’t forget to put the numbers on the checks. Instead, the numbers were next to the check perforation marks on flimsy paper, causing them to be ripped off or partially obliterated when the checks were detached from the payment page.

Poll worker Bill Garrett was surprised to get a letter from Bank of America that his $180 deposit was posted to his account in error as the check did not have the needed numbers.

“We thought it was a done deal. I got my check. I deposited my check. Life is good. What can go wrong with a county check?” he said.

Garrett no longer has the original payment page, to see if the routing numbers were there, but he was happy to hear the elections office will cut him a new check.

It turns out, staff told Antonacci that Garrett’s problem was a “very common one,” with poll workers tearing off part of the routing numbers or using scissors and cutting above the numbers.

He then found out checks made out to the office’s vendors haven’t been a problem, because they are printed on a heavier stock of paper and the perforation is above the check — not near the routing numbers.

“The remedy is simple,” Antonacci said. “Quit using this skinny, insubstantial paper” and keep the perforation marks away from the routing numbers.

Antonacci has directed staff to use the vendor-type set-up and paper for future checks to poll workers.

Some workers haven’t even received their checks due to addressing issues – but the county is on it:

Then there are the poll workers who haven’t received their checks yet. The office identified about 90 poll workers whose checks were sent to the wrong addresses, he said. More than 40 have called the office and been sent new checks. Antonacci told staff to get the other ones mailed out, too, and not wait for the poll workers to have to pick up the phone.

Problems like this can be maddening for an election official – but in Broward (which had very high profile issues in 2018 leading to the dismissal of the previous supervisor) small, fixable issues are likely a welcome distraction. Everyone else, though, might want to check whether their own checks might be susceptible to the same problem.

Tear carefully, everybody – and stay tuned…

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